How many hours your child spend playing games on phone or watching TV every day?

If you are a tech-savvy parent, then chances are the figure runs anywhere between 2-8 hours. When the technology begins to replace the time kids spend reading books, playing outdoor sports or face to face interacting with parents and friends – it should raise an alarm.

The overuse of technology is fracturing the influence of family and friends on the development of the children. Parents busy with their own jobs and lifestyle find kids-friendly apps, channels and games as an easy respite from shouldering their parental responsibilities. All these things are addictive and therefore, what once started as a substitute becomes a central aspect of the kids’ lives.

Kids with more than 2 hours of screen time every day are found to lack necessary cognitive and social skills compared to those who spend more time being involved in other real activities. Creativity and imagination gets restricted to what they view in games and cartoons which is far away from the reality. Thus, there sense of reality becomes distorted. Technology also negatively impacts the thinking pattern, information processing and memory functions of the brain. This is also one of the reasons for the rising complaints of shorter attentions spans and low concentration levels of the children in schools.

Excess screen time means sedentary lifestyle with overindulgence in food.

Together, they contribute to rising cases of weight gain and obesity. Child obesity and diabetes are also becoming a growing concern in higher income families in bigger cities.

The emotional bond between parents and children is also suffering because they hardly spend any time in face-to-face conversations. Children spend more time on Facebook than they do in personal relationships. This leads to poor interpersonal, social and communication skills. Often, they have more friends in their Facebook list than in neighborhood and school put together.

Behavioral disorders such as violence, depression, anxiety and sleep disorders are also common among children who overuse technology.

A New York Times article mentions that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had given his children only limited access to technology at home. He emphasized on face to face family interactions. It’s an irony that someone who convinced everyone about the indispensable role of technology in transforming their lives himself practiced differently.

Overindulgence in technology has a negative impact on the physical, psychological, emotional and behavioral development of kids. It’s important to put limits on the number of hours they spend with their electronic devices. All parents should encourage their kids to participate in family conversations, playing outside with friends, reading books and developing hobbies. It’s difficult to shun technology altogether therefore only limited and wisely chosen screen time is the way forward for raising healthy and happy kids.

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